Williams Gateway Airport representatives met for the first time last week with Phoenix officials about the possibility of having the city buy a stake in the East Valley airport.
“We talked numbers, and from our perspective I don’t want to get into specifics because we are in kind of a negotiating period,” Phoenix aviation director David Krietor said.
Krietor said he expects two to three more meetings on the subject, and then the Phoenix City Council could vote as early as April on whether to buy into the airport.
The Williams Gateway Airport Authority board would also have to approve any agreement.
A deal would formally link Williams Gateway to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport as a reliever airport — something Williams Gateway has wanted to do since it opened 12 years ago.
Over the last two years Phoenix has contributed $200,000 to Williams Gateway’s marketing budget, and airport spokesman Brian Sexton said the two have a history of cooperation.
“For 12 years we’ve been sharing expertise and resources, so the cooperation has always been there,” he said.
“To talk about formalizing that is a natural extension,” Sexton said.
Williams Gateway is owned by Mesa, Gilbert, Queen Creek and the Gila River Indian Community. It’s located at 5803 S. Sossaman Road in Mesa, and that city owns by far the biggest share.
The four governments subsidize airport costs with the expectation they’ll come out ahead once the airport becomes a moneymaker and pays them back.
Bringing Phoenix into the mix would mean new money at a time when Mesa’s budget troubles have the city contemplating slashing its contributions to the airport’s budget by $2 million.
Some are wary of Phoenix wielding too much influence, fearing it could use that position to help make Sky Harbor even more dominant.
A charter airline, Vision Air, plans to begin offering Williams Gateway’s first regularly scheduled passenger flights in April, beginning with four flights weekly to Las Vegas.
The prospect of a Phoenix connection to Williams Gateway surfaced during last week’s City Council candidate forum.
Councilwoman Janie Thom, whose District 6 includes Williams Gateway, said the fact that her opponent, Scott Somers, works for Phoenix’s fire department would create a conflict of interest, which Somers denied.